Some cool (and controversial) architecture.
This is The Cloud, a building designed by MVRDV in the Netherlands, for Seoul. The towers have a really nice Lego-block / pixel style to them, which makes for not only a cool exterior but also opportunities for interesting spaces in and even on the building’s exterior. The architects say:
Usually a high-rise adds little to the immediate surrounding city life, by integrating public program to the cloud the typology adds in a more social way to the city. Inside the cloud, besides the residential function, 14,357m2 of amenities are located: the sky lounge – a large connecting atrium, a wellness centre, conference centre, fitness studio, various pools, restaurants and cafes. On top of the cloud are a series of public and private outside spaces, patios, decks, gardens and pools.
I really like it. There’s far too much brutalist, plastic-clad mehchtecture in England’s cities and it would be great to see buildings like this over here too. I’m a big fan of surprising green spaces in and on buildings – it makes such a nice change from yet more starkness and cheap furnishings.
There’s been a lot of fuss about the resemblance between The Cloud and the events of 9/11, with people saying that the new design reminds them of the explosions and smoke clouds pouring from the World Trade Centre.
The range of opinion has been really interesting to see – from internet commenters coming out with stuff like:
What an enticement for North Korea or another group of raghead highjackers to take them down! For an architectural firm to even SUGGEST such a design demonstrates stupidity or arrogance gone to seed!
and even Time saying:
It seems reasonable that no firm that wanted to stay in business would champion such a plan if that connection were known.
It looks like there’s a lot of very loud, angry people out there who are totally affronted by the fact that anyone would consider designing a building that even mildly evokes the spectre of 9/11.
And it’s true: from some angles there is a bit of a resemblance.
9/11 was a big, terrible event in which lots of people died, but ultimately it was one event that happened to one country, over ten years ago. Demanding that people around the world respect your right to be offended by anything that reminds you of it, no matter how vague the resemblance and how much those connections exist only in your own head, smacks of an inflated sense of self-importance.
Many people around the world have suffered loss or trauma and have sights or sounds or smells that can trigger unpleasant memories – bringing back memories of a loved on or a bad experience, say – but that doesn’t mean you can expect the world to censor out all of those things for you. I think the people doing the complaining are revealing a serious lack of sense of their place in a wider world.
Thankfully, despite all the coverage of INTERNET OUTRAGE and STORM OF CRITICISM most comments online have been well balanced. For every outraged commenter there are several others who shrug their virtual shoulders and say “so what?”. In the meantime, MVRDV have apologised to anyone offended by the designs but are sticking with them, which I find most heartening.
As a side note, this isn’t MVRDV’s first pixel-style building, there’s more Lego building goodness on Dezeen here.